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The Record, February 1898

Among the numerous landmarks which in the progress of time have been doomed to disappear few have been so keenly missed as the frame house which forms the subject of our frontispiece this month.

Its location was about 100 feet southwest of the south wing of the present buildings. The view here presented is taken from the east and shows to good advantage the surroundings of the buildings. It is worthy of memory that this was the first structure reared on the present site of the institution, and here dwelt the community while the stone house was building. These quarters were limited, but the community was as yet small. When the stone house was completed, it became the residence of the faculty and students, although some of the professors were still quartered in the frame structure.

The building was composed of two sections, one of two stories, running north and south, and containing shops and private rooms: the other, one story, extending eastward and containing the chapel which also extended through the larger building.

The chapel was an humble edifice. Its most costly furniture was the altar, which to this day adorns the chapel of the lay-brothers. The pews were slight and plain: in the rear of the chapel was a platform with a reed organ—which later has long ago been dismembered and scattered in all directions. It was there our organists were schooled: Henry Van Beeck among others. Services for the students and congregation were held here until 1881, when the chapel was transferred to the basement of the new church.

On the north side of the chapel was attached a small sacristy which, between 1881 and 1886 served as a photographic studio. The skylights may be dimly seen on the plate to the right of the chapel. 

The rest of the buildings, we have said, was occupied by shops—tailor shop, carpenter shop and shoemaker shop. Here also were domiciled for many years those old human landmarks, Fritz, Louis and, towards the end of his life, the Old General who spoke Greek and Latin and showed scars received in the Polish wars.

Around the building was a large vegetable garden and orchard and, at a later period, a small apiary. The garden was in charge of Mr. Schaefer, the “old Gardener,” who although his garden has long disappeared, still lingers here and from the window in his room may fancy he sees the apple trees blossoming. The orchard had some fine apple and plum trees, a strong temptation for the boys during the fruit season: the picket fence was not high and the gardener not always awake. In one corner of the garden, on the lake side was a bower generally covered with what are known as “mock oranges” and farther up the slope was a miniature vineyard which also caused the gardener some anxiety during the fall.

Some of the old timers delight in telling how they contrived to enter the vineyard without the gardener’s knowledge, while there were others less venturous, but more diplomatic, who “stood in” with the gardener and thus found many an opportunity of sampling the grapes without running the risk of having their trousers sprinkled with pepper and salt.

When the shops had been housed in near, spacious brick structures and most of the inmates of the frame house had found shelter in the main buildings, the former, together with the garden and orchard, were doomed to disappear. The trees were cut down in 1886 and shortly after, the building was slowly dismantled. Fortunately our photographer had secured several views of the building from different points, and thus we are enabled to present to our friends a picture which will no doubt, stir up a flood of pleasant reminiscences.